conquers Great Green Wall

Tuesday December 21, 2021

The Concord community has completed its whole-school fundraising challenge, ‘Ride the Great Green Wall.’ Students, staff and Concord alumni teamed together to complete the 8993km virtual cycle and row, traversing 12 nations across the Great Green Wall in Africa, in aid of the College’s charity, Soil of Amhara. The task was devised by Concord’s Mr Steven Cale of the Geography Department, following last year’s first – and highly successful – virtual fundraising challenge, ‘Pedal 4 Lalibela’. After successfully refurbishing four classrooms and expanding toilet facilities at Lalibela Primary School in Ethiopia, this year’s aim was to raise funds towards planting a forest with the local community. This will help to provide sustainable income and resources, as well as to help other rural primary schools to improve their building facilities – therefore, improving education opportunities for many young people. The challenge, although completed virtually, was mapped out online and in a physical ‘distance sculpture’ at Concord – so all involved could watch the College’s progress travelling from Dakar all the way to Djibouti, almost 9000km in total. Principal, Dr Michael Truss was delighted to launch the challenge earlier this term, riding on a spin bike near Main Hall alongside local cycling legend, Mr Dave Mellor, a former Great Britain Cycling Olympic and Paralympic Team Manager and owner of Dave Mellor Cycles in Shrewsbury. Over the course of the 27-day completion time, a further 165 students and alumni cycled, 70 students and staff rowed, and 17 staff cycled to reach the final destination. Notable highlights include the following:
  1. Mandela House cycled the furthest, covering 2874km.
  2. Gandhi House contributed the most participants, with 49 people joining in.
  3. Girls cycled 63% of the trip distance.
  4. 6.1 students were the most active, with each participant cycling 30km on average.
  5. 22 students joined the 100km club.
  6. The longest overall student distance covered was 570km.
On completing the challenge, Mr Cale commented: “We seemed to be creeping slowly into a headwind at the start but picked up momentum and had contributions from hundreds of students, staff and alumni. “This is a fantastic achievement under difficult circumstances. The route has followed the Sahel ecosystem through 12 countries and thousands of kilometres of dusty trails and tracks. We also virtually rowed along four great North African rivers – The Gambia, The Niger, The White Nile and The Blue Nile.” As well as the physical challenge, Concordians have already pledged and raised over £800. It is not too late to support. Click here to securely donate via the JustGiving page. Speaking about the importance of the fundraising initiative, Mr Cale added: “Even in times of peace in the Amhara region, young people have limited opportunities for employment. We work with local leaders to improve educational facilities and create sustainable economic opportunities. “Since last year's successful fundraiser, Pedal 4 Lalibela, the situation in Amhara has unfortunately deteriorated into conflict. However, our charity is in it for the long term, wanting to show our care and support when hope is needed the most. “I must extend huge thanks to the Grounds team for their ambitious ‘distance sculpture’, for teachers and Tutors encouraging students to partake and providing updates, the Outreach team for inputting data, and to every student, alumni and staff member who has taken part and donated.”